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Opinion

Opinion

Gingrich is pragmatic choice

January 27, 2012

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A longtime conservative friend sent me an email after reading something positive I had written about Newt Gingrich: “Whoever votes (for) or supports Newt for president is out of their mind.”

It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been called crazy.

He continued: “You can believe in redemption, as I do, but you are not thinking seriously if you support a person for president with the baggage he is carrying. What an example for our children and future generations when we dismiss character as the foundation for leadership.”

There’s more, but I get his point.

The evangelical Christian population of South Carolina apparently believes that while character is a good thing, the ability to defeat President Obama and dismantle the welfare state is more important.

Here, in part, is how I responded to my friend: What is the standard for selecting a president and who decides? Franklin Roosevelt cheated on Eleanor with Lucy Mercer and perhaps others, yet he helped to win World War II and led us out of the Great Depression. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson used a questionable encounter between U.S. and North Vietnamese vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin to ram a resolution through Congress that sucked us deeper into the Vietnam War, which needlessly killed more than 58,000 Americans. Johnson had one wife, but allegedly had a roving eye.

Richard Nixon by all indications was faithful to Pat, but unfaithful to the Constitution. Gerald Ford and Betty (who was divorced) were pro-choice on abortion, which is anathema to social conservatives. Jimmy Carter was a faithful, church-going, Sunday school-teaching, born-again man. He was a profile of what social conservatives say they want in a president, yet they now judge him a failure. Ronald Reagan was divorced, but a good president.

Bill Clinton kept the tabloids, talk radio and mainstream media busy with his marital transgressions. His apologists said sex was a private matter between him and his family and had no bearing on his ability to do his job. George W. Bush spoke of being “redeemed,” as Gingrich does, but from alcohol, not women. The judgment of history is yet to be rendered on his eight years in office.

And now we have Barack Obama, who is the husband of one wife and seems to love her and their two daughters. But conservatives don’t like his policies.

To say that Gingrich has not always lived up to the ideals he professes does not diminish those ideals. When Thomas Jefferson wrote and delegates of the Continental Congress edited the Declaration of Independence, some of those assembled owned slaves. Did writing “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” ring less true because of slavery? No, it simply set an ideal in place that nearly 90 years later Abraham Lincoln (and 100 years after that, Martin Luther King Jr.) would reference in successful efforts to force government to recognize the rights of African-Americans.

As America grows more secular, less religious and less married, appeals to “morality” will increasingly fall on deaf ears. Charles Murray wrote about this “new American divide” in last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal.

Voters on one side of the divide — the “traditionalists” — are conflicted. Social conservatives seem similarly conflicted in the Romney vs. Gingrich vs. Santorum contest. Two of the candidates have had just one wife and they are religious. And then there’s Newt.

Conservative voters are being forced to make a pragmatic choice between their “traditional values” and who can best defeat President Obama. If Gingrich’s convincing victory in the South Carolina primary is any indication, they appear to be making that choice.

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services. His email is tmseditors@tribune.com.

Comments

orangechubb 2 years, 2 months ago

You are so right. Newt really blows. He is still preferable to B.O. How sad...

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 2 months ago

What is the tea-publicans' favorite thing about Newt? 1) Appearing in an ad with Nancy Pelosi warning of global warming. 2) Calling GOP tax ideas "right wing social engineering". 3) Desiring an open marriage with his ex wife and his current wife (mistress at the time). 4) Wanting a base on the moon. 5) Making millions as a "historian" for Freddy Mac. 6) His corrupt, divisive, and failed leadership as house speaker, resulting in ouster by his own party. 7) His lenient position on illegal immigration.

Chime in and let me know.

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Stain 2 years, 2 months ago

Note to Cal Thomas: South Carolina is not reflective of the whole country. The coded racist talk from Newt helped him in SC, but it won't work everywhere. America is better than that.

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Stain 2 years, 2 months ago

Gingrich was so corrupt that his own party ran him out of Congress. I don't think he should be given even more power, as president, than he had before, when he abused his power so flagrantly.

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autie 2 years, 2 months ago

Bea, I have been under the impression that social conservative values had rotted to the core. Especially in Topeka.

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beatrice 2 years, 2 months ago

This is the second time Cal Thomas has suggested that social conservatives give up their core values and support Newt Gingrich. That seems very odd to me.

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autie 2 years, 2 months ago

When newt was Speaker of the House his own people couldn't stand him. I don't know how we could do with a Cabbage Patch kid in the white house.

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Liberty_One 2 years, 2 months ago

"and dismantle the welfare state is more important."

Gingrich will do no such thing whether he has a supportive Congress or not. Don't be a fool and think otherwise.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Wait - did Cal Thomas just praise FDR???

I thought that he and his "New Deal" policies were anathema to conservatives?

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jaywalker 2 years, 2 months ago

"Bill Clinton kept the tabloids, talk radio and mainstream media busy with his marital transgressions. His apologists said sex was a private matter between him and his family and had no bearing on his ability to do his job"

Good ol' Cal likes to point out the positives for the right but neglects the 'enemy.' Omitted from the above is that Clinton was our best Prez in a long time.

His column does reinforce claims made on these strings every day, though; namely, that many Republicans will throw out the baby out with the bathwater as long as it means ousting President Obama.

Every day seems to get sadder and sadder.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

Yea, anybody who can say really stupid stuff with a straight face is Cal's kinda guy.

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Fretster 2 years, 2 months ago

Cal, could you make yourself look more like a doddering old fool? Nope. What a stupid, stupid column.

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Abdu Omar 2 years, 2 months ago

When I was a boy, there was another son of a neighbor who pushed his way into everything. If he wanted to bat twice in an inning, he did because he was bigger, bolder and full of himself. The verbal attack on CNN's John King told me all I want to know about Gingrich. He, too, is a bully and instead of sitting back and waiting for something, he goes forward and grabs it and looks you in the eye and says "take it away from me if you dare".

Personally, I hated the bully on our block as much as I detest Gingrich now for his antics. If we elect this guy, he will bully his way into war over and over because he doesn't know diplomacy. He isn't aware of the finer points of leadership. All he knows is bullying people. Can you imagine you wife or husband turning away from you because a sick wife doesn't a good first lady make.

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tange 2 years, 2 months ago

Newt "Rico" Suave, the enigmatic choice...

http://tinyurl.com/yonl8v

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Gandalf 2 years, 2 months ago

Core teapub beliefs: Morality and taxes are for others. Money, healthcare and retirement are for them.

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KEITHMILES05 2 years, 2 months ago

What a load of crap. LOL

New polls are showing Newt getting trouced by the President. The "feel good" guy won't get the job done.

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